The top 5 charity newsletters and what they’re getting right


WWF newsletter

What’s good about it? Interactive content

Having a quiz question gives readers something to do with your content. It offers a little something extra than just the basic information. Doing this drives readers to your website as this is where the correct answer is revealed.

WWF have chosen to engage readers in this way to work towards their goal of a world where people and wildlife both thrive. They’ve used their email campaign as the platform to promote knowledge of relevant and important issues with their readers.

This would work well for a wide array of charities as a way to drive traffic to news, blog content or donation pages on your site.

Their newsletters often have content like this, which can often highlight the reader’s lack of awareness on a certain issue and create a sense of interest whereby readers want to feel less uninformed.

The more that people choose to read, the more chance they have of engaging with your cause, so this can work very well depending on what your overall mission is.


British Heart Foundation

BHF newsletter

What’s good about it? Consistent branding

It’s always good to keep your brand recognisable. Even if, as a charity, you may not consider yourself a brand, this consistency is still an essential. You want your logo, colour scheme and layout to be recognisable as your own.

There are lots of charities who are doing this effectively, from Cancer Research to the British Heart Foundation.

The British Heart Foundation are our example of choice. The charity, dedicated to fighting heart disease, have made themselves very easily recognisable.

They have an identifiable logo and red and white scheme. By maintaining a specific look across all your emails, and more broadly all your marketing material, you build an identity for your charity.

This may not seem overly important, but numerous studies have linked familiarity with trust in certain charities. If people recognise your charity immediately in your emails, it’s less likely they’ll simply ignore the content.

It also means that people can make links between reading your emails and seeing your charity buckets on streets or your logo T-shirts at fundraisers. This will make you stand out as more memorable to potential donors.



CharityWater newsletter

What’s good about it? Effective use of images

Overuse of images is a risk when it comes to email campaigns. This is because a number of recipients may choose to read a plain text or image-free version of your email. You don’t want all of your interesting content to be lost in translation as it’s all communicated through unseen images.

Although that’s the case, images can still be used very effectively in email campaigns, as long as they aren’t all you rely on.

Banner images can do a great job of catching a reader’s attention, whether that’s an uplifting, shocking or informative image. Depending on the goal of your campaign, any of these could work well at encouraging reading and click-throughs.

The example given is one by Charity:Water, a charity with the mission to provide clean water and improve sanitation for people in extreme poverty.

Their image choice in this campaign tugs on the heartstrings by showing a father and son for a Father’s day campaign. The image quite arguably conveys more than text would be able to. With this, people are then enticed to read on below based on an interest in the image.

Additionally, it is wise to make your image a hyperlink to the relevant information. This may be a blog post on the topic, or your donation page. Either way, it gives an extra use to the image that can be tracked as long as you tag the hyperlink.



Barnados newsletter

What’s good about it? An immediate call to action

It’s brilliant to have high open rates and a consistent readership, but for many organisations it isn’t enough for people to just read the emails.

In most cases, email campaigns are sent with a specific goal in mind, whether that’s raising awareness on a specific issue, increasing donations, or recruiting volunteers.

The example we’ve chosen is Barnardo’s, a UK-wide charity focused on transforming the lives of vulnerable children. The majority of their emails include an immediate and clear call to action early on in the email.

This encourages click-through’s, an ideal result if your content is easily actionable. If you’re going to have such a clear call to action, make sure the content that’s linked is working properly, is clear and is easy to follow.

Also, having your more detailed content lower down in the email means that people can choose to read on if they’d rather.


Great Ormond Street Hospital

Gosh newsletter

What’s good about it? Variety of media

As we’ve discussed, images can be highly effective when done right. This is also true of video content.

It can be the clearest, most concise and digestible way to communicate the message of your organisation, so including these in an email can be a very wise choice.

Unfortunately, the capabilities of email have still not evolved as much as we’d like, and the videos aren’t actually embedded in the email itself. Instead, these are thumbnails, edited with a play button and a hyperlink to direct people to the video on their site or social media page.

This is what Great Ormond Street Hospital have done for their email campaign, but very successfully. The images inform the reader of what the video content is all about, as well as the supporting text.

As the readers have a rough idea of the content, they’re likely keener to watch the video, so not all-that-fussed to be directed elsewhere to watch the videos. These videos can express information that may not come across as clearly or relatable in text form.

Creating original video content can be quite a big ask for small charities, but if it’s something you’re looking into or already doing, email is a great way to get it viewed by the masses.


If you’re looking to improve your charity’s performance through email marketing, you might want to consider our programme, Charity Digital Mail. It offers charity-specific support as well as discounts to professional email platforms. You can find out more here.



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